If you know me, you know my personal motto of "Catch Flights, Drink Flights", as it perfectly embodies my passion of traveling and trying new beer. Well, I recently had the opportunity to live on California's Central Coast, and ohhh, did I get to try new beer. California's Central Coast, usually known for it's wine scene, also has some delectable beers. I didn't want to make this list to long, so I only included breweries from Solvang up to SLO (San Luis Obispo), which is only a very small section of California's beautiful Central Coast. If you don't feels like reading this whole thing- I suggest Bang the Drum, Oak and Otter, and Kulterhaus for the best beer and experiences.
Libertine Brewing Company (SLO)
Pros: Sours galore! As well as saisons, barrel-aged stuff, and gosés. Amazing beers all around. Large food menu. Lots of indoor seating and some outdoor seating. Great selection of to-go beers and merch. Also sells coffee and bakery items in the morning! They offer wine as well as mixed drinks, and have brunch every Sunday. Large selection of guest taps as well. Right in downtown SLO.
Cons: Limited selection of IPAs and other beers that aren't "sours". Downtown street parking.
Note: You can find Libertine brewery in Morro Bay and Avila beach as well!
Must try: Pacific Ocean Blue Gosé- brewed with Morro Bay salt water
Naughty Oak Brewing Company (Orcutt)
Pros: Decent beers, pretty good variety. Indoor and outdoor seating. Rotating food trucks. Trivia nights and such. A few unique beers on tap that rotate. Cool merch. Also have nitro cold brew coffee on tap! Good vibes, great local place to just chill.
Cons: Beers are decent, but not amazing or anything. Small selection.
Must try: Staycation - Mango blond
Pismo Brewing Company (Pismo)
Pros: Near the beach and right in downtown Pismo. Decent food menu. Indoor and outdoor seating. Old fashioned root beer on tap.
Cons: Pretty small. Only 6 beers on tap, and they're all average tasting. Street parking.
Must try: Roadside Red Ale
Manrock Brewing Company (Grover Beach)
Pros: Great wood-fired pizza. Really nice outdoor seating area. Large selection of beers on tap, and they're actually pretty good. Family owned and operated.
Cons: Limited selection of non-IPA beers.
Must try: Sea Foam P.O.G - Berliner Weisse
Oak and Otter Brewing Company (SLO)
Pros: Great beer. Really large variety, including lots of IPAs, porters, stouts, ambers, and wheat beers. Very nice indoor and outdoor seating. Pretty good food menu. Great vibes. New beers come out pretty frequently. Without a doubt, one of my favorite breweries in the area.
Cons: Street parking, but I've never had an issue.
Must try: Kölsch and ESB
Bang the Drum Brewery (SLO)
Pros: Amazing vibes and decent beer. The place is huge, with tons of indoor and outdoor seating. Live music sometimes, as well as trivia and open mic nights. Great menu, with homemade pot pies. They also sell coffee and bakery items that are made on site. In addition to beer, they also serve wine, cider, hot spiked cider, and they have a rotating guest tap as well. Dog friendly, and free Wi-Fi. Definitely one of my top 5 breweries on the central coast.
Cons: Can get VERY crowded, especially on trivia nights. More variety of beers needed, as well as new beers.
Must try: Das Weiss - German Hefeweizen & Honey Pot- Honey blond
There Does Not Exist (SLO)
Pros: Very good beer. They host cool events sometimes, such as The Make Shift Muse (local vendor market). Rotating food trucks on weekends. Indoor and outdoor seating. Unique glassware.
Cons: Bartenders can be kind of dicks. Their entire Instagram is in black and white so you can't see the color of the beer and that annoys me. (Update- looks like they decided to put some color on their Instagram! Thanks guys.)
Must try: Transit of the Binary Star - Saison
Solvang Brewing Company (Solvang & Lompoc)
Pros: In downtown Solvang, an adorable Danish city. Large food menu (and actually tastes good). Lots of indoor and outdoor seating. Good vibes, and a variety of events throughout the year. Beer menu includes IPAs, Browns, Pales, Stouts, etc.
Cons: Beer is kind of lacking, in both taste and variety. Can get crowded.
Must try: Raspberry Wheat
BarrelHouse Brewing-Taproom and Speakeasy (SLO)
Pros: Great beer. Cool little taproom, hidden away down a side street. Indoor and outdoor seating. Right in downtown SLO. Large selection of beers to choice from. TVs usually with some sporting event on it or live music. They also have different table games available to play while you're drinking. Lots of cool merch. Side note: BarrelHouse has a few taprooms around California, and this is not their main brewery.
Cons: No food. Can get crowded. Street parking in downtown. Limited outdoor seating.
Must try: Strawberry Daze - Fruited Blonde Ale
Humdinger Brewing (Arroyo Grande)
Pros: Decent beer. Good selection. Indoor and outdoor seating. Pretty decent food menu, with some unique bites. Very clean. Right in downtown Arroyo Grande. Gorgeous murals on the walls here.
Cons: Street parking. Could use more variety of beers.
Must try: Humdinger Loatus - American Lager
SLO Brew Rock (SLO)
Pros: Really cool spot, good vibes. Decent beer. Good food with large menu. Outdoor games. Live music often, including a concert-type venue on the property. Huge variety of beer on menu, as well as to-go. Hosts lots of different events, such as a huge Okterberfest, as well as events such as The Make Shift Muse (local vendor market). Lots of mixed drinks and seltzers. Family-friendly.
Cons: Can get crowded and I'm not a huge fan of their beer. Personally, vibes are off for me here, I feel like they're trying too hard? Doesn't have that "cozy local brewery" feel.
Must try: Stein Slammer - German Lager
Central Coast Brewing (SLO)
Pros: Good beer, good variety. Really nice outdoor seating, with a back patio shaded by trees. Solid food menu. Lots of games inside to play (arcade style), family friendly. Lots of cool merch.
Cons: Limited parking.
Must try: Raspberry Sunrise - Imperial Kettle Sour
Liquid Gravity Brewing Company (SLO)
Pros: Really cool spot, great vibes. Pretty good beers, okay variety. Indoor and outdoor seating. Outdoor seating has fire pits for when it's chilly. Live music frequently, including brass bands every first Friday. Usually some sort of food truck available. Family owned brewery.
Cons: Could use more variety of beers. Can get very crowded during live music shows.
Must try: Goffbrau - Hefeweizen
Pros: Amazing, really unique beers on tap. Great spot, good vibes, right in downtown Pismo. Food menu, with frequent specials. The chef and brewer are both very passionate about their jobs, which I appreciate. Indoor and outdoor seating.
Cons: Street parking in Pismo, might be difficult to find parking during peak season. Kind of small, but not necessarily a con.
Must try: Wecken - Farmhouse flower (saison with rose, hibiscus, and lavender)
Apogee Brewing Co (Grover Beach)
Pros: Great local feel. Huge selection of beers on tap, including IPAs, Belgians, Reds, Blondes, Browns, Pales, and, Seltzers, even a Mexican Chocolate Stout with chipotle peppers. Lots of parking. Indoor and outdoor seating. Dog friendly. Games available. Live music on occasion, trivia events. Cool murals. Merch available. Just opened in Jan. of 2022.
Cons: No food. There's seltzers, but no mixed drinks if that's what you're into. Kind of small on the inside, but that's not necessarily a con.
Must try: Space Cadet - Belgaian Blonde (2022 GABF Bronze winner)
Antigua Brewing Co (SLO)
Pros: Large variety of beers, most of which are pretty damn good. Many awards have been won on some of their beers. Large food menu. Right in downtown SLO. Family owned. Solar and Wind powered, with 99% of their beers brewed with locally grown hops. Trivia nights. Indoor and some outdoor seating. Seltzers and mixed drinks available.
Cons: Guacamole is definitely store bought bullshit. Food in general is just okay. Downtown parking. Vibes are just alright, which sucks because they have such a great location. Just opened in Feb. 2022, and the brewmaster Chris told me "I never wore a mask". Do with that info what you will.
Must try: Central Coast Wit
Interested in seeing more beer and breweries that I go to? Follow my beer Instagram @suckerforsaisons. I take special interest in all beers that aren't IPAs, such as wheat beers, saisons, sours, gosés, pilsners, hefeweizens, etc. IPAs are great too though!